‘Sheffield has been in my blood from an early age’
Louise Durham (33) is the head of services at City Hearts, a charity headquartered here in Sheffield, working nationally with vulnerable adults - particularly those who have been rescued from Human Trafficking.
Louise, originally from Teesside, moved to Sheffield in 2004 to study Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield. Whilst at University she became a volunteer at City Hearts then became employed part-time. She started full-time work the week after her studies finished. Since then she has retrained and as part of that completed a MA in Charity Resource Management from Sheffield Hallam University.
In her current role as Head of Services, she oversees the Anti-Trafficking, Restore and About Face programmes. Louise has a passion to help people dream again, have hope and live a life of freedom, whether this is from captivity, addiction or offending. Louise lives in the Richmond area of Sheffield and in her spare time is a keen football fan. She enjoys following the lows and highs of Middlesbrough FC, she is also an active member of Hope City Church Sheffield and loves nothing more than a free Saturday to explore the Peak District.
18 October is UK Anti-Slavery day, a call to action remembering and supporting survivors of human trafficking http://city-hearts.co.uk/getinvolved
Fox Hagg Farm Caravan Site
I have lots of happy memories here as a child. My dad came to study at the University of Sheffield, so growing up we would often come camping for a long weekend and go see the sights of Sheffield and the Peak District. The caravan site itself is on a working farm, so as kids me and my brother loved seeing the animals (especially the sheep dogs.) Sheffield was in my blood from an early age, so when I looked at where to go to university – Sheffield was always at the top of my list.
The Arts Tower
This is an iconic part of the Sheffield skyline. The department where I studied during my degree was on the thirteenth floor of the Arts Tower, so I spent many an hour riding the paternoster lifts, going over and under and seeing how many people we could fit in a lift at one time. I love the fact that it can be seen from most places in the city and I always look fondly at it remembering my time at uni and first exploring Sheffield as a student.
The Bole Hills
I have a love/hate relationship with the hills of Sheffield, but what the hills do provide are incredible views. I love the view from here, especially at night when you get the added bonus of lights. As a student I spent many an hour here, having picnics, playing rounders and Frisbee in summer. In 2005 I did the Sheffield Half Marathon and a lot of my runs would start through here.
City Hearts UK
Little did I know that volunteering here as a student in 2006 would change my life in such a profound way, helping to forge what I now feel is my life’s mission to help those who have lost all hope and vision. I think my Christian faith has also been fundamental in my motivation to help others. I am a firm believer that no problem is too big to overcome; sometimes it is just a matter of restoring safety, hope and security to people which can help them see there is another way. I will never forget one of my first experiences of meeting a survivor of human trafficking. She asked me to confirm what country she was in and was overwhelmed by having her own bedroom and clean pyjamas. That image stays with me and always motivates me to help others who have had their freedom robbed from them.
Since 2006 when City Hearts was a small charity employing a handful of people, I have loved our journey of growth and our increased avenues of impact. We now have offices in Sheffield, Liverpool and Sunderland with a staff team of over 150 supporting over 700 clients across these regions.
Again- I just love this view. My role involves a lot of travel to other cities, so I often walk down the steps through the amphitheatre into the back of the train station. When coming back into the station it is one of those sights that makes me think: ‘I am home.’
La Luna, Ecclesall Road
I am a foodie who appreciates good home cooked food and I am all for championing independent places. I love that Sheffield has numerous hidden gems across the City. La Luna is a little Italian restaurant on Ecclesall Road. It’s one of my favourite places as my boyfriend took me here on our first date and the food was wonderful: authentic Italian and yummy. I highly recommend the fresh pasta and seafood. The staff are welcoming and the environment is cosy and relaxed.
Forging Ahead project
This is a project City Hearts runs, partnering with South Yorkshire Police, Total Training Provision and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. ‘Forging Ahead’ helps ex-offenders get a start on turning their life around by providing support with training, life skills and access to employment. Some great local businesses have become partners in this, including Gripple, Amey and SIV. We first ran this project at the start of the year and all the people who have been placed in employment are still in work. I love charities and businesses joining forces to strengthen the opportunities available to disadvantaged people.